Colgate’s Kit Bag

I came across some good trash while biking on Sunday night. Inside these boxes and bags was a large collection of reel-to-reels, cassettes, and videotapes, big enough that I had to go get the car to pick them up. The hope with old recordings is that they contain something that doesn’t exist anywhere else, for example the audio from a live show in the 70s. It’s not clear that these tapes contain anything interesting, but fortunately I’m in contact with someone specifically interested in preserving that kind of stuff. I gave them to him, and I’ll let him figure out if there’s anything on there worth digitizing. It’s quite possible that these tapes aren’t too interesting, just recordings from the radio and so on, but I figured it was the worth the effort just in case.

Regardless, the collection was pretty impressive and very well organized. It must have taken thousands of hours to compile.

Those recordings are unlikely to benefit me financially. Fortunately, one of the bags I brought home was filled with old electronic bric-a-brac.

This c.1960s Sony cassette recorder with speakers needs servicing, but should still sell for around 45$ on eBay.

Here’s some electronic doohickeys. The Ortofon STM-72 transformers are actually worth pretty good money. I have one that looks to be new in box, and one that was loose in the bag. The latter, which I listed as “untested” already sold for 75$ + shipping. Believe it or not, I should be able to make money from the old batteries as well – some collectors like having the original battery pack and will pay to have them rebuilt. Here’s one that sold for 20$ with shipping.

I found two high frequency drive units made by a Radford Acoustics Ltd. I didn’t find much about them online, and don’t really know what they’re worth. If you know anything about this, please share your thoughts in the comments!

Inside this box was an Ortofon SL-15 Mk II moving coil cartridge for a record player. Ortofon makes pretty high-end cartridges, some of which sell for over a thousand dollars on eBay. I found another one of these for sale for about 400$, but I don’t know if that’s a realistic price or even if mine works. Mine does has a needle, which I’m pretty sure is a good thing. Again, I don’t know much about cartridges so let me know if you have any useful info!

My favourite find from this spot might be this pocket-sized 1950s Sony TR-610 transistor radio. Old transistor radios are very collectible, and this little guy should sell for somewhere between 100-150$.

I’ll be keeping an eye on that spot in the curb. If I’m lucky they’ll toss some more vintage electronics!

Otherwise, I happened upon a heap of bags in Westmount. Most of the stuff was trash, but I did spot a small shopping bag that held a few intriguing items. All the pieces at bottom middle are marked as being 10k gold, and together they’re worth around 150$ for their weight. I couldn’t figure out what the “For Sisterhood Service” pin was for, maybe you can help me with that?

The most interesting might be the piece marked 1936, which is an old Radio Orphan Annie decoder. The radio show was apparently sponsored by Ovaltine, who gave out these badges in exchange for proofs of purchase, and at the end of each show there would be a code that only the owner of a badge could crack. I just noticed too that there’s a secret compartment in the back (unfortunately, it was empty). These seem to go for around 25$ on eBay.

The watch, a “Tradition” with 17 jewels is also nice. It runs well and is probably worth about 25$.

I also saved a couple of Estee Lauder perfumes. They already sold for 12$ to a local buyer.

I’ve been going back to the spot where that kid asked me to leave his trash alone. I haven’t seen him again, so maybe he has better things to do with his time. Anyways, I haven’t found anything mind blowing but I did save four large toy cars there last week. I sold three for 2$ each at my most recent yard sales (I did a very casual one with a friend on Saturday that lasted about an hour, and one on Sunday that I didn’t announce because there wasn’t much new stuff – it was really windy and a bit of a failure for a variety of reasons). The only car left is the red one, which I’d guess is a Corvette.

Elsewhere, I found a comb with a silver top; …

… a large collection of new tennis balls, some of which have now been chewed apart my my friend’s dog;

… and an old Sanyo B&W portable TV. I don’t know if anyone will want this, but I figured I’d put it on Kijiji and see what happens.

My mom was in town this weekend. We had a nice visit, and she also helped me organize some bags of sewing stuff that I saved a few weeks back. I don’t really know much about sewing but I took them thinking that the stuff might appeal to someone more crafty than I. All in all we filled three tubs with fabrics, ribbon, lace, sewing patterns, and lots of other sewing-related bric-a-brac. Hopefully someone takes interest in this at one of my future yard sales!

I like finding sewing stuff because there’s often neat little surprises mixed in. This WWII-era “Colgate’s Kit Bag” would have been used to hold a soldier’s personal items. After wartime, it was used to store a small collection of buttons. It’s worth around 30$ on eBay.

Let’s finish with this cool vintage patchwork quilt. I actually found this at a great spot I’ve been picking at in Villeray – I’ll share more finds from there soon. My mom told me it was both hand and machine stitched and guessed that it was from the 1940s. It smells a bit like basement and needs a little TLC but should be reparable. I gave it to my friend in exchange for helping with the sale.

Montreal’s big moving day is at the end of the month, so I expect to be pretty busy for the next little while! I may do another sale this weekend as my neighbours said they were interested in collaborating. If so, I’ll let you know.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to

Email: I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

22 thoughts on “Colgate’s Kit Bag”

  1. Some used Reel to Reel tapes have pretty good value also, after your friend archives them you should look in to selling them. Just a thought.

  2. Your perfume finds are delightful.I hope some of the tapes hold recordings of radio shows that are almost important to find.CBC ,the public broadcaster,archives and digitizes most or all news shows and interviews,but many private radio shows kept very small archives.

  3. Please wipe out your student debt soon and do not get back into debt again in life.With your brilliance and frugality,this is very possible.

  4. Many,many private radio stations and TV stations have incomplete archives and appreciate finding lost recordings or lost épisodes.Hope this turns out to be a treasure trove.Keep up the good work.

  5. The quilt? I grew up in central Pennsylvania and I know that style as a “crazy quilt” made from scraps by women who didn’t quilt in the traditional sense. As a child, I remember many families using them on beds and living room throws.

    1. Thanks for mentioning the term “crazy quilt”! I found some others on eBay that are pretty similar. They’re not as valuable as some old quilts, but there’s still a market for them.

  6. There is a magen david on the sisterhood pin, so probably a woman received it for her service to the ladies’ auxiliary of a synagogue

  7. Great post!
    On the vintage small TV, some people remove the insides, and turn the rest into a fish tank.

  8. I would be interested to know what are on those audio and video tapes. Maybe radio shows from the 70s? TV series / made for television movies that never got released on DVD? What area of Montreal did you find this? Thank you.

  9. I got one of those cassettes! It was such an extensive collection of jazz and blues … with a smattering of classical and rock. At least you were spared the need to sort through all those bags, though I would have been happy to help you with that. I’m always open to being your “assistant” whenever I’m in town. 🙂

    1. It was quite the collection. Hopefully the guy can figure it all out. I would have put them in the basement, but they would have taken up a lot of space. Plus, there’s always a new project around the corner when you’re a trash picker!

  10. The red car is not a Corvette, it’s a Bugatti EB110. A few hundred thousand dollars more in real life.

  11. I love vintage fabric, lace and buttons… I buy those items from op-shops (thrift) for crafty projects or just to admire. Buttons I pick up in the flea markets in Paris when I’m there. There are some wonderful books on collectable buttons. You could look into selling lots on Etsy where crafters source much of their vintage needs.

    1. I don’t know too much about buttons other than to keep an eye out for unusual ones. I’ll see if they sell at my next yard sale, if not I’ll consider the eBay route.

  12. The sisterhood pin may also have a connection to the women’s group “Hadassah”.

  13. Love your blog and encourage others to emulate you.Please read this great article from today’s New York Times.

    For the Bottle Man, Business Is (Happily) in the Toilet

    Scott Jordan, who is known as the Bottle Man, finds an old Borden milk bottle during an excavation in the Bronx.

    Justin Gilliland / The New York Times

    June 15, 2017

    Character Study


    With a quick bit of shovel work, Scott Jordan, 59, burrowed several feet into the ground in a wooded section of the Bronx, and traveled back a century in time.

    His digging exposed a circa-1910 landfill and now he was practically drooling over the granular layers of decomposed trash.

    He switched to a gentler excavating tool, a sharpened wooden broomstick, to avoid breaking any glass or ceramic finds. He got his first glass-squeak — music to a bottle-hunter’s ears — when the stick scraped against a gritty old bottle.

    Seeing only a piece of its rounded bottom, Mr. Jordan announced that it was a Borden milk bottle bearing an eagle insignia. And it was: a sturdy tall vessel of beveled, embossed glass, the first of a dozen bottles that the old dump would surrender over the next hour to Mr. Jordan’s eager digging.

    “That’s what I am, a digger,” he said.

    Mr. Jordan carries home the bottles, cleans them and tags them with information about their history and where they were found. He then sells them at the Grand Bazaar NYC flea market on Columbus Avenue and 77th Street, where he is known as the Bottle Man. His prices range from $10 to $80, based on rarity, color and condition.

    He turns other found artifacts into art pieces to sell during the winter holiday season at the Union Square Holiday Market.

    “Tourists love taking home something that was dug up in New York City,” said Mr. Jordan, who at his vending booths cuts a Victorian figure, often in a derby, scarf and vest and sporting a beard and mustache. “They’re buying a real New York artifact.”

    Mr. Jordan mines numerous landfills throughout the city, some dating back to Colonial times, but his other hunting grounds are sites where outhouses once stood and where castoffs were often tossed.

    He combs through these sewage pits, or privies, in use before indoor plumbing, usually in the rear of apartment buildings.

    “There’s some beautiful stuff left in those privies — we salvage what most people overlook,” said Mr. Jordan, who tackles the deep pits with his digger buddies using a tripod and pulley system to haul up dirt.

    Access often comes when old buildings are demolished for redevelopment.

    “Every time they knock down a building, it’s an opportunity,” said Mr. Jordan, who closely monitors construction projects and studies 19th-century maps to locate possible outhouse locations.

    Mr. Jordan’s home, in Astoria, Queens, is a museum of the city’s “buried past,” as he puts it.

    Justin Gilliland / The New York Times

    His longtime apartment in Astoria, Queens, is a museum of the city’s “buried past,” as he puts it. His unearthed items are densely displayed, as is the artwork he makes out of them.

    His oldest artifacts date back to the Dutch who settled in downtown Manhattan. Items include a vast collection of clay pipes, porcelain doll heads, pocket watches and assorted pottery.

    His bathroom is tiled with the vintage glass that he buffs by dumping it along the rocky shoreline of the roiling Hell Gate section of the East River, and retrieving it months later.

    The items are meticulously displayed on nearly every square foot of wall, cabinet and closet. His windows have become multishelved displays of colorful bottles dating back to the late 1600s.

    He picked up one bottle, he said, during a dig at a construction site in the South Street Seaport where a 25-foot-high wall of moist dirt collapsed and might have killed him if he had not jumped out of the way.

    Mr. Jordan shares his apartment with his girlfriend, Belle Costes, who makes and sells her own line of jewelry at the Grand Bazaar flea market.


    Mr. Jordan and Ms. Costes, both longtime vendors at the flea market, became a couple several years ago. She began going on his digs and collaborating on making jewelry from artifacts.

    Mr. Jordan arrived in New York from Connecticut at age 11, when his father, a Coast Guard mechanic, moved the family to quarters on Governors Island in New York Harbor. Mr. Jordan said he saw two teenagers digging for Revolutionary War items at Fort Jay on the island and joined them. He found musket balls, cow-bone dice and a Buffalo Bill souvenir ring and became hooked on digging.

    He attended the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan and studied painting at the Art Students League. In his 20s, he learned about old bottles and how to hawk them from a charismatic figure known as Bottle Bill, a former circus barker who sold vintage bottles out of an Upper East Side storefront, he said.

    These days, Mr. Jordan seeks permission from developers or other officials to access sites before new foundations are dug, sweetening his plea with a choice artifact. Years ago, he often slipped onto sites unauthorized, under cover of darkness or an official-looking safety vest and hard hat.

    Passers-by have called the police, suspecting him of burying a body or planting a bomb, he said, adding that not long after the Sept. 11 attacks, he was digging at a site near ground zero when the police converged upon him, guns drawn.

    Trespassing charges were dismissed after the judge viewed the art Mr. Jordan makes from found artifacts.


    “The judge said, ‘I got a house in Brooklyn,” Mr. Jordan recalled. “You think I got anything buried there?’”


    The Particulars

    Name Scott Jordan

    Age 59

    Who he is A digger who combs long-forgotten landfills for discards to be sold or collected.

    Where he’s from Astoria, Queens

    Telling detail “There’s a bunch of us in New York. We’re like a family. We like to be in the dirt, digging.”


  14. The crazy quilts are a frugal way to use up odd scraps of fabric. I love them for that reason

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